Social epistemology of scientific inquiry: Beyond historical vs. philosophical case studies

In this paper, I propose a new way to integrate historical accounts of social interaction in scientific practice with philosophical examination of scientific knowledge. The relation between descriptive accounts of scientific practice, on the one hand, and normative accounts of scientific knowledge, on the other, is a vexed one. This vexatiousness is one instance of the gap between normative and descriptive domains. The general problem of the normative/descriptive divide takes striking and problematic form in the case of social aspects of scientific knowledge. With respect to this issue, history and philosophy of science appear starkly incompatible. I show how this dualism can be overcome, drawing on social action theory and the recent history of cellular immunology.
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